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Shane Mosley may have perfect comeback opponent in Canelo Alvarez

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is putting his WBC super welterweight title and 39-0-1 record on the line against Shane Mosley. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)

LAS VEGAS -- It was strange seeing this Shane Mosley, the former three-division champion and pound-for-pound king sitting on the dais for an undercard press conference, a high-profile name being fed to a rising young star. Years earlier, Mosley stood side by side with Oscar De La Hoya, combatants in two memorable fights. On Thursday, De La Hoya stood next to Mosley again, this time in his capacity as a promoter to introduce Mosley as the dangerous opponent for prized prospect Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

"Shane Mosley beat me twice,” De La Hoya said. “I know how tough a fighter Shane can be."

This is what Mosley (46-7-1) is now, an opponent, a prospective notch on a young fighter’s belt. The multi-million dollar paydays are gone, replaced by a $650,000 purse he will pocket to face Alvarez (39-0-1) on Saturday night at the MGM Grand (9 p.m. ET, HBO PPV). They are gone, and many expected Mosley to be gone, too. Mosley has struggled since his stunning win over Antonio Margarito in 2009. He lost a lopsided decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2010 and looked sluggish in a draw against journeyman Sergio Mora later that year. He managed to land another high-profile fight with Manny Pacquiao last May, but was on his heels all night en route to another one-sided defeat.

Mosley claims there were reasons for those poor performances -- injuries, distractions, whatever. He claims he is healthy for this training camp for the first time in a long time and that any lingering problems are behind him. He claims that, at 40, he still has a good career ahead of him.

“The past is the past,” Mosley said. “This is now. I’m as healthy as can be. God works in mysterious ways.”

In making a comeback, Mosley may have found the right opponent. Alvarez is a star: young, good looking, full of charisma. But his boxing credentials are limited. He was hurt in a 2010 win over Jose Miguel Cotto. He was hit with a lot of punches in a 2011 win over Matthew Hatton. He was outboxed for several rounds last September by journeyman Alfonso Gomez.

"He’s a star," said Mosley’s trainer, Nazim Richardson. "But if Jennifer Lopez announced she was fighting next month, I’m pretty sure she could do the same pay-per-view numbers. He’s a good looking kid. He’s a legitimate rock star. But we are going to find out if he can fight on this level."

Indeed, neither Mosley or Richardson appear particularly impressed by Alvarez. Richardson said Alvarez was "good at fighting great fighter’s brothers,” a nod to his wins over Jose Cotto (brother of Saturday night’s headliner Miguel Cotto) and Matthew Hatton (brother of former 140-pound champion Ricky Hatton). Mosley called Alvarez, “a great young fighter."

"But," Mosley added. "He shouldn’t be in the ring with me."

Recently, Mosley has struggled with speed (Pacquiao) and quickness (Mayweather). Alvarez has neither. Mosley has historically had success against Mexican fighters (Margarito, De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, among others). And while Alvarez doesn’t fight like a traditional Mexican (“He moves around the ring a little, trying to show you he’s different,” Richardson said.) there will likely come a time when the two stand toe-to-toe and trade.

Then, Richardson and Mosley believe, they will have the advantage.

"Shane has to apply his IQ," Richardson said. "He has to be more intelligent and a step ahead of him. If Canelo is as special as they say he is, he can beat Shane Mosley. If he’s not, Shane is going to knock him the f--- out."

-- Chris Mannix

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